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Capt. John 36 Hour—Saturday/Sunday March 5/6, 2016

With the far offshore forecast thru Sunday evening being a really good one the party boat Capt. John left Pier 19 Saturday morning with 40 of us fishermen aboard.  After exiting the Galveston jetties Captain Johnny Williams headed us off in a south, southeasterly direction and the same area fished on the way out as the last weeks trip.

Shortly after 2 p.m. we were at our first stop 90 miles out over a rock formation in 210 feet of water. Vermillion snapper were taken as were several 30 to 61 pound amberjack.  Unfortunately red snapper in too large a number were also in residence.  The second area stop had about the same results except that most of the amberjack were returned to the water for failing to meet the minimum size limit of 34 inches.  At the leave the boat had a good start on the vermillion catch limit along with five amberjack from 30 to 61 pounds, a moray eel and an assortment of other bottom species. That “leave” was for the offshore run to the Gunnison Platform and the overnight tuna fishing.  While at the bottom spots several of us had freelined sardines out looking for a wahoo or kingfish hit, it didn’t happen but you never know.

The earlier 2 foot swell out of the southeast had now progressed into a 3 to 4 foot version, still a smooth ride for the Capt. John.  After a run three hours plus we were at the Gunnison Spar Platform, 135 nautical mile off the island in 3150 feet of water. With Captain Jill Williams now running the show the first of the down current/wind drifts began. That first drift of about 2 miles was a good indicator of the nights blackfin tuna fishing success. It was Hot! Hot! Hot! with around 50 being caught. The unusual incident on the first drift was when a marlin of an estimated over 5 foot length came up at the stern port corner following a hooked blackfin tuna, it made a swipe at the blackfin, missed, and then took a run up the port side.  The marlin became hooked somehow by guess who? Captain Jill’s 10 year old son Justin.  He was fishing just ahead of the side door when the hook up came, followed by a reel screaming run that shortly afterward resulted in a unfortunate break off.  Justin consistently fishes harder than most adults and it also shows that you never know what’s going to happen if you have a bait in the water. Last week it was his first yellowfin tuna, this possibly could have been his first marlin….Great “firsts” for a 10 year old!

The numerous overnight drifts were started at the Gunnison Platform and ended past the drillship “Ocean Blackhawk” about 2 nautical miles away. During most of the drifts 8 to 10 of us were on the bow casting an assortment of poppers, sub-surface swimming hardbody swim baits and hard body sink baits. The hoped for yellowfin tuna didn’t show but several nice blackfins were taken. The other 30 or so fishermen at the back and sides were experiencing the best blackfin bite ever on the Capt. John, numbers wise, it was “mayhem fishing.”  Diamond jigs, speed jigs, occasionly a popper and freelined spanish sardines accounted for over 95 percent of the catch. What a catch it was, 411 blackfin to to 19# and 4 yellowfin tuna of 30 to 38#, a Capt. John best on the blackfin! Did the addition of 3 new and much brighter overhead “tuna lights” make a difference? Probably so, but you never know.  By the time of the next 36 hour trip on April 9-10, 3 more of these stadium lights will be installed for a total of 6, 2 on each side and 2 on the stern.  If the lights give their anticpated benefits hang on to your tackle tighter. The other “possibles/probables” to remember is that the tuna always have over 51 percent of the vote out there, the lights are the enticement that might swing their vote.

We left the Gunnison Platform about 15 minutes after sunrise on Sunday morning beginning our inshore run. That run stopped over natural bottom about 68 nautical miles to the south, southeast of the island in 120 feet of water. That overnight swell of 4 feet or so was now down to around 3 feet, peaceful. Over the next three hours 3 area spots were fished with moves made because either the vermillion bite slowed or the red snapper or shark bite picked up.  When we headed for the house this total trip catch was iced down in the fish boxes:

  • 411 Blackfin tuna to 19#
  • 4 Yellowfin tuna to 38#
  • 5 Amberjack to 61#
  • 273 Vermillion snapper to 3.5#
  • 1 Skipjack tuna
  • 1 Rockhind grouper
  • 1 Moray eel
  • 7 Triggerfish
  • 2 Mangrove snapper
  • 2 Porgy
  • 1 Atlantic sharpnose shark
  • 1 Grunt

Randy Derusha group of 7, 112 blackfin tuna (30 Randy’s -trip “high hook”) many vermillions adn a 35# amberjack

Minh Nguyen, Dallas, 10 blackfin tuna on top water popper and a “macaroni” hardbody.

Gino Asuncion, Galveston, 13 blackfin tuna on a 4 oz, chrome diamond jig fished at 100 foot or so and 8 vermillion snapper. This longtime Williams Party Boat fishermen was on his first 36 hour tuna trip.

Mike Decuir, Brenham, 13 blackfin tuna, 2 amberjack of 30 and 61#, his personal best, 18 vermillion snapper

John Michael Decuir, Brenham, 14 blackfin tuna (1 more than his Dad) 1 yellowfin tuna of 33#, 17 vermillion snapper.

Craig Quenstedt, Brenham, 4 blackfin tuna, 9 vermillion snapper

Steve McDonald, Houston, 27 blackfin tuna, (beating his previous best by one), 15 vermillion snapper

John McDonald, 20 blackfin and 15 vermillion snapper

Mike Gullette, Galveston, 16 blackfin, 11 vermillion snapper, 1 sharp nose shark

Justin Williams, Galveston, 4 blackfin tuna, 1 grunt,2 scamp grouper (released) 20 vermillion snapper and the “break off released” 5 foot plus marlin

Patrick Lemire, Texas City, Dejavu all over again as Yogi used to say, as far as my catch results goes this trip as opposed to last weeks. All the attemps, results, thoughts apply again, see last weeks trip report for my same details. Justin is still included, just replace the other names withMinh, Mike, John, Gino, Randy, Steve and another Mike. The “Hardhead” had another pretty good trip!

Speaking of names Johnny, Jill, Richard, Carl, Dan, Lucas, and Bobby each had their part in leading, directing, and doing all of the necessities in making this great 36 hour tuna safari on the party boat Capt. John go as well as it did. Blackfin tuna wise it was, as stated earlier, the best by numbers caught ever by a Williams Party Boat since these overnight trips started in 1990. You can’t have the best ever on every upcoming trip but that crew of seven will do all they can to make it happen, the new and brighter overhead lights will come in handy too.

See you on the Capt. John!

Patrick Lemire

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